Press Release: Historical Injustices, The Sotik Massacre, Blood Tea and Land Alienation
International Pan African Webinar to be held today on ‘Historical Injustices, The Sotik Massacre, Blood Tea and Land Alienation” at the Lawyers Hub, Nairobi, 5 pm to 7 pm (EAT), (3 pm to 5 pm BST); To Book: Bit.ly/HistoricalKenya
The Kenyan Governors, His Excellency Hon. Professor Chepkwony, His Excellency Hon. Stephen Sang will join forces today with the U.K. Member of Parliament, Ms Claudia Webbe to expose the historical injustice of the Sotik Massacre of 1905, and to commemorate the assasination of Tribal Leader, Koitalel Samoei. They are coming together to call on the Britsh Multi-Nationals, and their Kenyan subsidiaries to implement the historic ruling of the Kenya Land Commission in 2019.
These politicians are being supported by the Kenyan Historical Injustice Campaign, Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA), The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), Bandung Conference (Kenya), BlakSox (U.K.), and the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU).
This International Pan African Campaign is to compel the British multi-nationals to remedy this historical injustice and joining activists, NGO’s and politicians in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Kenya to remedy the economic and social injustice being conducted by these British conglomerates and their local surrogates.
Dr. Julius K Nyerere famously said,
“We know there can be no peace without justice. The greater the movement for justice, the greater the chances of peace.”
The Kenyan Historical Injustice Campaign is working with a group of advocates and activists throughout Africa and across the Diaspora to push for systemic reparations to be made. In East Africa, local activists Judge D. Peter Herbert O.B.E. (retired), Co-Chair of the Bandung Conference (Kenya) and SBL; Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer of PALU (Tanzania)] ; and KDA Chair, Dr. Shem Ochuodho, and will lobby and campaign within the African Union to address the 2020 A.U. agenda to end all forms of colonialism. The Webinar to be held later today is the first in a series of activities to challenge the historical injustice and the present day exploitation of ordinary Kenyans by these British Multi-Nationals.
His Excellency, Honourable Professor Paul Chepkwony, Governor of Kericho County, stated,
The Sotik massacre has been erased from the history books, not just of the United Kingdom but from Kenya as well. The slaughter of some 1850 men, women and children would today be classified as genocide and a crime against humanity. In 1905, Colonel Hennessey, used a Maxine Machine gun to conduct this slaughter. This massacre was used to terrorise the Kipsigi people and evict them illegally from their ancestral homeland. The colonialists justified this ethnic cleansing by stating that the “well watered white Highlands were fit to raise a European child”. Approximately 100,000 Talai people were forcibly removed to Gwasi, which they knew was unfit for human habitation. This was heartless racism of the highest order.”
The Nandi Chief, Koitalel Samoei, who had successfully rebelled against the British, was assassinated a few weeks after the Sotik massacre using the same Maxine machine gun. The Sotik massacre and the assassination were directly linked to the colonial system of forced labour, hut tax, the apartheid segregation, and racism that was used to impose the colonial exploitation of Kenyans.
His Excellency, The Honourable Governor of Nandi County, Stephen Sang,
Noted in a recent Petition to the Senate of the Republic of Kenya that the County had invited the National Lands Commission to address questions of historical injustices and that it held over three weeks of hearings and investigations. Governor Sang has applauded the NLC findings and has specifically called upon the National Assembly to, “Direct that the irregular and illegal awarding, extension, and renewal of expired and expiring leases belonging to individuals and multinational corporations in both the Tea Growing Highlands and the Sisal and Sugarcane growing lowlands be acted upon and in compliance with the need to address these historical land issues henceforth”.
The Honorable Claudia Webbe M.P., U.K. Member of Parliament, commented,
“As Africans in the Diaspora, we have chosen to stand in solidarity with the people of Kenya whose history has been erased from the history books of both Kenya and the United Kingdom, and to force the British multi nationals to abide by the laws of Kenya. The theft of land in Kenya was all too often accompanied by a legacy of brutality and exploitation, dating from colonial times, that continues to this day. We shall be lobbying the Minister of Education in both Kenya and the U.K. for the Sotik Massacre and the assassination of Koitalel Samoei to be included in the National Curriculum of both countries. This will ensure that future generations understand the sacrifice that was made by the native peoples of Kenya to gain their freedom. This was not limited to the Sotik people but all over Kenya ethnic groups were forcibly removed from the best farmland, with no compensation, and often left to starve on barren and unproductive land, never to return. This was Kenya’s version of Bantustans and apartheid. This story must be told.
Kenyan Historian, Godfrey Sang stated,
“The rolling tea plantations of Kericho and Bomet Counties hide a dark history of ethnic cleansing, massacres and modern day slavery whereby lands were stolen from local people under the threat of force by the colonial militia. Multi nationals like Unilever, James Finlay Tea, pay little or no taxes in either Kenya or the United Kingdom, and syphoned their profits to shadow companies in Switzerland and Belgium and fix tea prices to help impoverish Kenyan farmers. Multi Nationals continue to reap huge profits from the tea plantations, exploit local workers who are paid less than $100 per month, pollute the local environment, and invest nothing in local schools, hospitals or infrastructure.”
Dr. Shem Ochuodho, President of the Kenyan Diaspora Alliance stated,
“For Kenyans who live in the diaspora and at home, it pains us to see how our country of origin is still often run for the benefit of the former colonialists. Neither in Europe or North America do we see African ownership or enterprise permitted on this scale. The continued presence of these exploitative British multi nationals prevents Kenyans from benefitting from the fruits of their hard labour. The current situation provides for the theft of Kenya’s largest cash crop, tea, that should benefit all Kenyans and not serve to enrich absentee landlords or foreign shareholders. This reality must change.”
Currently British multi-nationals, hide behind the local companies in the Kenyan High Court to argue against the implementation of the Land Commission Report. The Claimants are employing the cynical tactic of ‘delay, deny and defend’ to prevent the decision of the National Lands Commission being implemented. They know they have no valid title to the lands they claim to hold. Similar issues arise in Laikipia County where thousands of Maasai people were forcibly removed in the 1940’s and 50’s. As a result some 44 Europeans “own” some 40% of Laikipia County, and pay little or no taxes either in Kenya or the United Kingdom according to our sources at Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The decision in 2019 by the Kenya National Lands Commission (NLC), which made important findings of fact against the multi nationals and their tenure of the land ought to be upheld. This followed the filing of the claim by His Excellency, the Governor Paul Kiprono Chepkwony in 2018 claiming restitution for the Kipsigis and Talai people who suffered huge losses when their land was forcefully taken from them during the colonial era, petitioned the NLC accordingly. The Governor has also lodged a full report before the United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights and is lobbying for further action.
In a historic ruling the NLC has determined that the Kipsigis and Talai people not only unjustly lost their property but were also subjected to various forms of human rights violations in the process. According to the National Land Commission Act, these recommendations are to be implemented within the next two years.
The Commission determined as follows:
- That the ancestral land ought to have been surrendered to the affected communities at independence.
- That the British Government pays reparations to the direct victims of the historical injustices and issues an apology over the various forms of injustice inflicted against the Kipsigis and the Talai communities.
- That the Government of Kenya officially acknowledges that land was unlawfully taken from the Kipsigis and Talai.
- The British Government and multinational tea companies constructs for the Kipsigis and Talai amenities such as schools, hospitals etc and provide services such as water and electricity to alleviate their suffering.
- That the British Government and the multinationals pay victims mesne profits for the loss of use of their land from 1902.
- Rates and rents for land occupied by multinational tea firms companies be enhanced to benefit the County Governments of Kericho and Bomet and the National Government.
- The British Multinational companies do lease land from the Kericho and Bomet County Governments at commercial rates.
- Land with expired leases should not be renewed without the concurrence of the County Government where the land is domiciled.
- The Government of Kenya through the Department of Adjudication and Settlement in the Ministry of Land identifies and acquires adequate and suitable land to resettle members of the Kipsigis and Talai to end their perennial landlessness.
- A fresh survey and audit should be undertaken for land allocated to multinational tea companies in Kericho and Bomet and any land in excess of the size documented in official records should be reverted to the County Governments of Bomet and Kericho to be held in trust on behalf of the residents of the two counties. The land shall be used for public purposes.
Notes for Editors
The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL) has been engaged in international human rights for 50 plus years. The Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA), is a federation of 44 registered diaspora organizations, with a combined 250,000 Kenyans across the globe The Bandung Conference is an international non-governmental organisation, working to promote the development of Pan African solutions to global problems linking Africans on the African continent and in the Diaspora. BlakSox is a social action and economic development network based in the United Kingdom and East Africa. PALU is the premier continental membership forum of and for individual African lawyers and lawyers’ associations in Africa. SBL, The Bandung Conference, BlakSox, KDA, and PALU, as well as their affiliates in East Africa, have a long history of fighting for justice and human rights around the world.
The philosophy of the British Colonial administration can be summarised in this excerpt from The National Archives in Kew Gardens, London.
“It was a Roman Catholic missionary who explained to his native converts that there was no doubt as to their equal with the white man in heaven, but that the white man was at least 1,000 years ahead of them in civilisation and that made a difference on earth. We cannot ignore that difference or expect a Kenyan settler to do so either. By all means let us work towards the ultimate elimination of that difference, but in the process let us not be tempted to wander from the highroad of facts into the by ways of unreality”. ACC Parkinson, 5.3.1930.
For media and press enquires, contact:
H.E. Professor Paul Chepkwony: Governor@kericho.go.ke;
H.E. Stephen Sang: Governor@Nandi.go.ke;
Rt. Hon. Claudia Webbe (U.K.): firstname.lastname@example.org;
Donald Deya, CEO (PALU) : + 255 (0) 787 066 888, email@example.com (Tanzania);
Hon/Dr. Shem Ochuodho +254-736-189624 firstname.lastname@example.org (Kenya)
Judge D Peter Herbert (retired) +254 (0) 742 101 877 email@example.com (Kenya)
Viv Ahmun, (Blaksox) : +44 7985 395166; firstname.lastname@example.org (U.K.)
(Edited by: Joan Muiyuro)
Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom